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Unions write to put pressure on Javid as he mulls pay deal

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Health unions are calling on ministers to give NHS workers a decent pay rise to avoid ‘a post-pandemic exodus’ of staff in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter sent to the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, 14 unions, including UNISON, the RCN and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) stated the importance of a ‘proper’ pay rise for NHS staff in order to prevent staff shortages and ensure the NHS can manage post-pandemic challenges effectively.

The NHS Pay Review Board (PRB) confirmed to Nursing in Practice yesterday it had now submitted its report with its recommendations on the NHS Agenda for Change pay deal to the Government – which it had not done last week.

A PRB spokesperson said: ‘The report was submitted in June. It will be for government to decide when to announce its response to the review body’s recommendations and publish the report.’

The union letter represents the voices of more than a million NHS staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who were due a salary increase at the beginning of April, as their three-year pay deal came to an end. Staff are now unlikely to see any rise until the beginning of July – which starts tomorrow – at the earliest.

The Government proposed a 1% pay rise earlier in the year but this was rejected with the RCN threatening to strike over the matter.

Nursing in Practice has approached the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for clarity on when it will make the announcement on the pay deal but a spokesperson said they were unable to give any more details at the present time.

As health workers await the results of the pay round, union leaders fear that without an improved pay deal, staff will quit, leaving the NHS unable to cope over the next few years.

The letter stated: ‘After the unprecedented challenges of the past 15 months, NHS staff are exhausted and well in need of a boost. A significant pay rise would help health workers feel valued and let them know their efforts during the pandemic have not gone unnoticed.’

The union leaders stated that a pay rise would ‘also signal the government’s commitment to addressing the huge backlog of appointments, treatments and operations cancelled to allow the NHS to focus on Covid’ in the letter.

It continued: ‘With almost five million treatments on its ‘to do’ list, the NHS needs a decent pay rise to prevent staff shortages becoming more acute as health workers leave for better-paid roles elsewhere.’

In addition, the unions have also asked to meet with Sajid Javid ‘as a matter of urgency to discuss the vital role a pay rise would play in putting the NHS into recovery mode’.

The RCN is calling for a 12.5% pay increase through their Fair Pay For Nursing Campaign in recognition of the highly skilled and safety-critical role of nursing staff.